Tracking variable annuity features and benefits is no easy task for advisors. In light of the recent financial crisis, however, those kinds of details might be less relevant anyway, says John Hancock’s Tom Mullen. “The spreadsheet [for evaluating VAs] has changed. Advisors should be less concerned with who’s got the highest return and more concerned with who’s got a good approach, who’s the strongest financially and who can help educate their clients.”

Here are a few additional tips to help advisors with their annuity
recommendations after the dust of the latest financial crisis settles:

o Seek input via interaction with peers and colleagues. Use blogs, on-line
forums, Webcasts, podcasts, seminars and the like to gather information from, and bounce ideas off, annuity experts.

o Use resources provided by carriers. Jackson National Life Insurance now has a living benefits selection center that helps advisors and their clients narrow their options. Meanwhile, Prudential Annuities this fall launched several sponsored financial advisor networks offering real-time news, analysis and commentary relevant to annuities and the broader market. They’re accessible via Forbes.com, MarketWatch.com and The Street.com.

o “Be an [annuity] industry spokesperson, not a product
pusher,” advises Mullen. Objectivity breeds productivity.

o Keep an eye on the cost of optional guarantees.
Prices soon could be rising, if they haven’t already.